CPG giant Mondelēz International has announced a shift in their marketing strategy. They call their new approach “humaning”. Is this a stroke of genius we should celebrate? A laughable folly we should dismiss? Or simply a cloud of hot air we should ignore? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • So what does this new approach look like? Here’s a summary from a Mondelēz news release.
  • The release goes on to connect humaning to diversity and inclusion efforts. These include membership in the Unstereotype Alliance and participation in the FreeTheWork initiative, which connects advertisers to underrepresented creators.
  • The announcement has provoked a lot of cynicism in the marketing world. Over at AdAge, Jessica Wohl asks “What the heck does that mean?” and laments the addition of yet another buzzword to the marketing lexicon.
  • Marketing Twitter has been similarly dismissive.
  • We’ll admit that the word “humaning” makes us cringe. And we’re not super keen on new buzzwords, either. But let’s push past this knee jerk dismissal before we come to judgement.
  • The Mondelēz statement clearly indicates a desire to move beyond an over-reliance on technology and data towards something more, well, humanistic. That’s a shift we whole-heartedly agree with. As do many leading brands and thoughtful marketers.
  • We’re also fans of the Unstereotype Alliance and FreeTheWork. We’re thrilled to see such a major advertiser supporting them so openly and enthusiastically, even if the flag flying above their endorsement is a little goofy.
  • And we also know how important storytelling is when you’re leading a team through change. It seems to us that the primary audience here is likely inside Mondelēz. Perhaps the public announcement is mostly a way for CMO Martin Renaud to tell his team a story about the energy and commitment behind this shift.
  • If that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter what the rest of us think. Because storytelling is a different story for each culture.
  • There’s one more thing we like about the humaning announcement. It calls out too much caution in the marketing department as a risk to be avoided. Perhaps the bold fanfare around this silly-sounding name is a case of leadership by example.
  • The juxtaposition of voices in our Twitter feed can sometimes spark an idea. Case in point, this piece was born when this tweet came up just beneath someone gleefully mocking the humaning announcement. Shane’s wise words feel a strong counterpoint to the haters—and a great note to close on.
Issue #106
Nov 15, 2020

Further Reading